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Truman's Gentleman's Groomers Brings Macho Beauty Care to Flatiron

By Mary Johnson | April 16, 2012 7:46am
Joe Marchesi, 40, founded Truman's Gentleman's Groomers six years ago with his business partner, John Esposito Jr.
Joe Marchesi, 40, founded Truman's Gentleman's Groomers six years ago with his business partner, John Esposito Jr.
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DNAinfo/Mary Johnson

FLATIRON — Manicures and pedicures? That’s chick talk.

But “handshake maintenance” and “foot repair?” Now you’re speaking dude.

Hand and foot pampering — known by those more masculine monikers — are popular staples on the menu of services at Truman’s Gentleman's Groomers, a men-only spa and salon on East 56th Street between Park and Lexington.

Those services — along with others like shoe shining, free cocktails and TVs blaring ESPN — have made Truman’s a hit among well-heeled men in their 30s, 40s and 50s for the past six years.

Building on that success, the glorified barber shop has now opened a second location on Madison Avenue between East 30th and 31st streets.

“You want to be near male-oriented businesses,” said Truman’s co-founder Joe Marchesi, 40, noting the presence of Credit Suisse nearby.

Also, he added, “[this neighborhood] is starting to get really big with tech firms.”

Marchesi launched Truman’s six years ago with his business partner, John Esposito Jr.  Both were working at IBM at the time but were interested in striking out on their own.

Neither had any experience running a salon, but they saw a void in the male grooming options available at the time. Businessmen were strutting around the city in $2,000 suits and $500 shoes—but with $18 haircuts, Marchesi explained.

“They were missing that piece,” he added.

The haircuts at Truman’s are definitely not $18. A wash, cut and style costs around $68, which includes a scalp massage and a hot towel.

For $88, the professional package offers a haircut, manicure and shoe shine, all completed within 45 minutes.

And several yearlong membership packages, providing unlimited access to the salon’s signature services, cost upwards of $1,000, Marchesi said.

But it’s not just about what’s offered, he added. Ambiance and attention to detail are key.

A bar near the front of the salon serves complimentary drinks. The magazine selection includes Maxim, Sports Illustrated and The Economist. And the televisions are consistently tuned to ESPN and CNBC.

Each haircut station is separated from the next by a partition to add a little privacy, Marchesi said.

“That allows them to have conversations about hair coloring, whether or not they’re losing their hair,” he said.

The pedicure — or, ahem, foot repair — area is semi-enclosed as well, and the waxing and massage area is sectioned off into its own room.

Waxing options range from eyebrows to full back waxes — something Marchesi said could make a man a little uneasy in a mostly female salon.

“Everything we do here is dedicated to men,” he explained. “Women love this place too because their guy will finally get a good haircut.”

The concept isn’t for everyone. Several online reviews for Truman’s scoff at the idea of a $68 haircut and challenge the notion that men crave a little pampering. But others have embraced the men-only spa.

“I won't lie and say it was cheap or not at least a little extravagant, but I didn't feel ripped off at all. And everything they seem to do is just first class,” one reviewer wrote on Yelp.

“So $80 for a haircut that includes tip? Yeah, the wife laughed at me. That barely gets you a bad one if you're a woman.”